I’m somewhat of a horror movie buff. At least, I was. In recent years, I’ve been considerably less inclined to see any movies, horror movies even less so. And that’s kind of sad, really. I have some vivid and very pleasant memories of going to see just about every horror movie that came out with my dad, from being awed by 28 Days Later (2002) to walking out of FeardotCom (2002) to seeing the remake of The Omen (2006) on the night that I graduated high school to laughing my ass off when Paris Hilton got impaled through the head with a pipe in House of Wax (2005). Hell, I pretty much grew up with the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise (Freddy Krueger is still my favorite slasher villain of all time). So, the horror genre will always have a very special place in my heart.
But lately, I’ve found it very difficult to get excited about new horror movies, partly because my dad and I live in different states now, but mostly because it’s become near impossible to find a new horror movie with even a drop of creativity to it. Everything that comes out only seems to be a remake or just drivel. When the best horror movie that you’ve seen in the last, let’s say five years, is Scream 4 (2011), there’s clearly a problem. Perhaps I’ll review Scream 4 at a later date. But anyway, it seems the well has run dry for this particular genre.
Recently, however, I went to visit my father, and during that time, we decided to see a couple movies. One was Lockout (2012), and you already know my thoughts on that pile of creative fecal matter. The other was, if you haven’t guessed by the title of this review, was The Cabin in the Woods.
I remember not hearing too much about this film before seeing it, only that Joss Whedon was involved in some way (he was one of the writers). But that was enough to get me curious enough to see it in theaters (in case you didn’t notice in my Avengers review, I think rather highly of Mr. Whedon).
Even had I not known that Joss Whedon was involved, my dad and I had looked up some reviews before deciding to go, and they were all around pretty good. Four and five stars and 8s and 9s pretty much across the board. After seeing that, there was pretty much no way that we were going to miss it.
The film starts out like pretty much any horror movie ever, complete with Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth playing the stereotypical jock character. There’s also a stoner, a slut, a virgin, and a black guy. You know, the makings of every great horror movie. They all decide to take a road trip out to a creepy cabin in the woods (hey, that’s the name of the movie!) where horrible things are destined to happen to them. Seeing this, I was already disappointed. Joss Whedon is usually pretty good about avoiding the clichés. But there was something different and interesting going on behind the horror fodder. Richard Jenkins (the father from Step Brothers (2008)), and Bradley Whitford (the villain from Billy Madison (1998)) are working in some kind of studio where they seem to be influencing the environment around our favorite victims. That alone made it different enough for me to continue watching.
And it turns out, I made a good choice there. For the first long while, The Cabin in the Woods continues like your general horror flick with a couple gruesome and comical deaths, all while the people in the studio are abuzz with activity, keeping up with the action. It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on back there until they come out and explain it, but it was fun trying to come up with my own theories.
It was a good time. It had been awhile since I had just sat down with the old man and enjoyed a cliché horror film.
But then, near the end of the movie, the whole thing decides to just go bat shit insane! They reveal the big plot twist and the movie just loses its fucking mind. And that’s when the movie goes from good to great. You can tell that, during this part, every single person involved in the production of the movie was just having a blast. And I had a blast as a result. It’s so much fun and filled with all sorts of violence and ridiculousness and ridiculous violence and explosions and Richard Jenkins. Ah, it was a breath of fresh, gore and satisfaction-filled air.
Sadly though, the ending is kind of ehhhh. I don’t know. When it came around, the movie just kind of lost all of the momentum that it had built up over the last ten or so minutes and left a sour taste in my metaphorical mouth (while the Sour Patch Kids left a sour taste in my literal mouth. Ba-dum chh… Nothing? Aw, you’re no fun). It wasn’t a horrible ending, and it didn’t retroactively ruin the rest of the film or anything like that. And I’m not even sure how they could have ended it in a more satisfying way. But still, I have to subtract a point there.
As for the technical stuff, there’s nothing truly noteworthy to say. The acting was satisfactory, with a couple notable performances, mostly by Richard Jenkins and the stoner guy. But none of it was bad.
The same can be said for the effects. The make-up was good and the CG was passable. And the average CG did kind of give it a cartoony kind of charm, even if it wasn’t great.
All-in-all, The Cabin in the Woods is a pretty wonderful movie experience, even if its score isn’t the highest that I’ve ever given. While the acting and cinematics are maybe just a little above average with some standout points, the plot and the psychotic episode the film suffers at the end make it absolutely nothing but enjoyable. Give it a watch some time, I say.
Total: 7/10: In my head, this movie got a higher score, but the math don’t lie.
Note to Hollywood: More Richard Jenkins!